SCULPTOR Martin Jennings, from Combe, rubbed shoulders with royalty when his statue of a pioneering plastic surgeon, who treated badly-burned servicemen, was unveiled.

Sir Archibald McIndoe used his skills during the Second World War to help soldiers and airmen at a hospital in East Grinstead, Sussex.

The Princess Royal, who is patron of the Blonde McIndoe Research Foundation, unveiled the bronze statue of the surgeon resting his arms on a patient’s shoulders at the Sussex town’s Sackville College almshouses last month.

Mr Jennings’s father, Michael, was treated by Sir Archibald after being burned when a shell set fire to his tank in 1944.

He said: “After his wartime burns, my father’s fingers were closed against his palms for the remainder of his life.

“I can remember how tentatively he sometimes used to hold them and how he used to try to stretch them when they ached.

“I had them in mind while I was modelling the patient’s hands in the statue.”